Sleepy Eye Lake ice regularly measured; follow safety guidelines when on the ice

Deb Moldaschel
The Sleepy Eye Herald Dispatch

Three times a week the Parks Department measures the thickness of ice on Sleepy Eye Lake and also measures the oxygen level in the water. Tuesday morning Craig Fischer met this reporter at the lake to show how it's done.

Craig Fischer, Sleepy Eye Parks Department, measures the ice thickness on Sleepy Eye Lake Tuesday morning—it was 14 inches.

After a walk out about 150 yards Fischer augered a hole in the ice and measured its thickness—14 inches. Then he dropped the oxygen monitor in the hole and took readings at three depths. The oxygen level is monitored because if it gets too low it can lead to a fish kill.

The Parks Department checks the oxygen level in the lake water three times a week. Craig Fischer checked oxygen at three depths in the water after measuring the ice thickness.

If the oxygen level measures low, the Parks Department will turn on the aeration system. This doesn't happen every winter and if it becomes necessary proper warning will be given to those who venture out on to the lake to be aware of open water.

The ice thickness measurement is often posted on the City's Facebook page.

DNR cautions about uneven conditions as ice season gets underway

Anglers in some parts of Minnesota have been venturing onto the ice for several weeks, while water remains open in other parts of the state. So far in December, weather in the state—which has included rain, snow and fluctuating temperatures—has affected ice-making and impacted ice that’s already formed.

As a result, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources stresses the importance of checking ice thickness with a spud bar, auger or other device before stepping out onto it. Do not rely on other people’s footprints, tracks or social media posts.

Each year, unexpected falls through thin ice lead to serious injury or death. Wearing a life jacket is the best way to avert tragedy should someone fall through the ice, since the initial shock of falling into cold water can incapacitate even strong swimmers. A good set of ice picks will help a person get out, and a cell phone, whistle or other communications device makes it more likely they’ll be able to call for help.

General ice safety guidelines from the DNR

No ice can ever be considered “safe ice,” but following these guidelines can help minimize the risk:

• Always wear a life jacket or float coat on the ice (except when in a vehicle).

• Carry ice picks, rope, an ice chisel and tape measure.

• Check ice thickness at regular intervals; conditions can change quickly.

• Bring a cell phone or personal locator beacon.

• Don’t go out alone; let someone know about trip plans and expected return time.

• Before heading out, inquire about conditions and known hazards with local experts.

The minimum ice thickness guidelines for new, clear ice are:

• 4 inches for ice fishing or other activities on foot.

• 5-7 inches for a snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle.

• 8-12 inches for a car or small pickup.

• 12-15 inches for a medium truck.

• Double these minimums for white or snow-covered ice.

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